On Sept. 5, the Gregg Museum of Art & Design opened a new exhibition, “Southbound: Photographs of and about the New South.” This exhibition is organized by the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art and focuses on the ever-changing American South. Through photographs, the exhibit highlights the plethora of perspectives and experiences people have with the southern region.
Evelyn McCauley, marketing & communications coordinator at the Gregg, said at the gallery opening that the particular exhibition presented at the Gregg is titled “Home: How We Make Ourselves.”
“I would say [the exhibit] is an examination of how the South has changed, what we might think of collectively when we think of the South in the United States, and also probably some personal reactions,” McCauley said.
Although originally curated by Mark Long and Mark Sloan of the Halsey Institute, the Gregg worked with a local guest curator, Randall Kenan, an English professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to create their exhibit.
“Kenan is a southern author and is very interested in the interpretation of the southern mentality, because it changes depending on what you’re talking about,” McCauley said. “So, each of these arrangements of photos has been chosen in a particular order to essentially tell a story. Now, it’s not up to me to dictate what that story is; that’s what you bring to the whole equation.”
According to the Halsey Institute, Southbound emphasizes the New South and places an emphasis on the new types of life in the region in its photographs, with focuses such as Latin American immigration to the region, African Americans returning to the region following the Great Migration and more.
“The photographs are very candid,” McCauley said. “Frozen moments in time of people’s lives. Also the kinds of images you might expect: old houses, dogs, rallies.”
However, Southboundis not all photographs, McCauley said. The exhibit explores other artistic mediums to portray its meaning.
“There’s a website that also features poetry, essays, writings,” McCauley said. “So, they engage not only visual artists, but literary artists to revisualize, reinterpret, respond to the idea of what the American South is now.”
In addition, the exhibition has a map project which uses data from the United States Census Bureau, Southern Poverty Law Center and the United States Agricultural Census to illustrate the demographic and cultural impacts of the South on the United States.
If you would like to visit or learn more about Southbound, visit the Gregg Museum website.